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President’s Project – Appalachian Wildlife Center

In Bell County in the Mountain Laurel District of The Garden Club of Kentucky there is a 12,000-acre tract of land that is being developed for an elk preserve by The Appalachian Wildlife Foundation. This preserve, which will be developed on abandoned coal strip mine property, will have a visitor’s center, small lake, restaurant, petting zoo and elk viewing tours as well as historical displays of the area’s mining on this land. These acres of old strip mine property that surround the visitor’s center will be reclaimed and planted to create the prairie necessary for the elk. This area is isolated and free from pesticide overspray. Several rare migratory birds have been sighted in the preserve that depend on feeding from our native seeds and berries along their journey. There are bear, fox, bobcats and other small mammals living on the property.

For my special project, our garden club members will collaborate with The Appalachian Wildlife Center to develop several acres of native habitat near the visitor’s center. We would provide seed and help develop plans for fields of native wildflowers and grasses that would provide food and shelter for many birds, small mammals, insects and other creatures.

This area and its surrounds would need to include a covered outdoor classroom and walking trails for students and other visitors to the preserve.

I feel that my project would be an educational tool that would help all visitors learn how important native plants are to the protection and continuation of all native life around us.

Garden Tips – February

Ice and Snow and cold

  • So far, we have experienced one of the lowest winter snow accumulations, but we still have two months of possible snowfall. If we get enough snow to weigh down branches, remove it by using a broom underneath to repeatedly but gently lift the branches. If branches are weighted by ice, allow the sun and temperature to melt the ice to avoid snapping the branches. It may take a while for the branches to recover, but they will.
  • Open coldframes when the temperature is over 45 degrees and close at night.

Garden 

  • Look for ‘February Gold’ daffodil to emerge by mid-month, along with other early blooming spring bulbs.
      • When a freeze is predicted, cover with a loose layer of leaves or a light-weight sheet overnight.
      • Pull back matted leaf mulch to check on spring bulbs. If its foliage is white to pale, remove the leaves to expose the new foliage to the sun.
  • Cut back last year’s perennial stems.
  • Remove ivy from brick structures as it damages the mortar. Repair trellises and other support structures.
  • ROSES: Order bare-root roses to plant mid-March to mid-April. Add 3” woodchip mulch to roses to keep the soil warm.

Houseplants

  • Take cutting of geraniums for planting in May. Continue to mist and check for insects.
  • Cut back poinsettias to 4-6”.

Trees

  • Order northern-grown deciduous and evergreen plants to guarantee hardiness. Plant when the ground is workable.

Vegetables

  • Thomas Jefferson’s initial planting of English peas was February 1, with harvest mid-May. Successive seeding gave him peas to mid-July.
  • To know when to seed, check the seed packet that notes the number of days from seeding to planting out. Count back from mid-April, our last average frost date, to determine when to plant indoors.
  • Mid-February, plant spinach.

GARDEN TIP

When using a potting soil that contains sphagnum moss, wear gloves or wash your hands often, as the moss carries a fungal disease that enters the skin through cuts and scratches.

Let’s Grow! How clubs increase their membership

‘Let’s Grow!’ is the theme for this administration, and we have grown!  GCKY has 15 clubs that have grown in membership over the previous year and we have gained a new club!

Some of the clubs have shared why their club has increased in membership.

  • A few new members have come from inquiries on our GCKY website and then local clubs reaching out to them.
  • No doubt word of mouth about the programs and activities is one of the best ways to gain members.
  • Invite potential members and then follow up repeatedly with invitations to meetings by e-mails or calls.
  • Club meeting attendance has even improved when current members have been contacted as well.
  • By placing information in local papers about meetings, activities, and emphasizing that the meetings are open to everyone is another good way to get potential members.
  • Having a flower show in the district brought in two new members who were interested in entering the flower show with their designs…they loved floral arranging.
  • Another new member wants to help their club with a webpage.

Our federated clubs have so much to offer!  There is a ‘hook’ for many potential members.  We need to keep letting everyone know about us and how we can impact our communities in such positive ways!

Congratulations to these clubs who increased their membership!

  • Audubon District
    • Gateway GC
  • Blue Grass District
    • Boone Co. GC
    • Gardenside Green Thumb GC
  • Dogwood District
    • Audubon Park GC
    • Beechmont GC
    • GC of Elizabethtown
    • Rambler GC
    • Warren East GC
  • Limestone District
    • Fleming Co GC
    • Four Seasons GC
    • Millersburg GC
    • Paintsville GC
  • Mountain Laurel District
    • Green Thumbs GC
    • Middlesborough GC
    • Rockcastle GC
    • Appalachian Roots GC (new club!)

Botanical Names

The Arboretum is not just a pretty garden: it is a botanic garden that trials new and old varieties. Some flourish and so do not. They are not failures, but demonstrate that certain plants do not survive here.

Botanical Names

‘A rose is a rose is a rose’ according to author Gertrude Stein. While a rose continues to be a rose, that is not so for the botanical names of many other plants, thanks to research into DNA. Botanically, coleus is no longer Coleus blumei, nor Solenostemon scutellroides, its 2006 name change. As of 2012 it is Plectranthus scutellroides. Not to worry, coleus as we know it still is available at the nursery.

Portrait of Carl Linnaeus
Carl Linnaeus

We owe official plant naming to Carl von Linne´(Linnaeus) who, in the 1700s, developed a binomial nomenclature to reduce the confusion of plant names (sometimes as long as 20 words!) or the same name given to several different plants. His Latin binominal classification was based on flower structure.

Over the centuries, plant names have changed. Since the development of DNA, botanists are busily reclassifying according to chromosomes. Reclassification has created new genera, divided others into smaller genera, and moved some plants into established genera. For example, Aster’s 600 species were divided into 11 different genera; Liliaceae keeps lilies, but lost onion; asparagus got its own genera; and autumn crocus joined colchicum in Colchicaceae.

For gardeners, the botanical name assures us that the plant we wanted is not another that has a similar or the same common or regional name. Catalogs beautifully picture their plants, but with so many looking alike, the only way you know for sure is checking the botanic name that is listed after the common or variety name.

The chrysanthemum is an example of a large genera. Ask for Chrysanthemum indicum for a florist mum, C. leucanthemum for ox-eye daisy and 24 other species, or C. ismelia for tricolor mum, its only species.

For a specific plant, use its botanical name. But if you just want to add beauty to your yard, enjoy it and don’t worry about its botanical name.

Garden Tips – Winter Work

Outside in the Garden

  • Neaten up the garden and edge beds.
  • Rake soil and scatter collected seeds.
  • Make notes as to plants to replace and areas to fill in this spring.
  • Place pines and other evergreens prunings (except holly that dries prickly) on beds to protect plants and give a cleaner look.
  • If fully dormant and in the wrong place, roses may be transplanted through January, if the ground is not wet or frozen and temperature above 32 degrees. Cut canes to 3-4 feet, pre-dig the new site, plant and mound 8-12 inches around the base. Cut back rose canes to prevent whipping, then mulch.

Houseplants

Fiddle Leaf Fig is a great architectural addition to any style home. The tropical plant requires little attention, loves our warm homes, bright light, water when the top layer of soil is dry, and fed (10-4-6) during the growing season (March through October). It is vulnerable to the usual houseplant pests. At first sign, wipe the waxy leaves with1/2 teaspoon to 1-gallon water mix, and to clean the leaves occasionally. Fertilize miniature roses in bloom monthly with 20-20-20.

Trees and Shrubs

Location! Trees and shrubs grow. Take into consideration the maximum height and width when planting. Always read the planting label for dimensions as well as other environmental requirements. Do not plant anything wider than the strip between the sidewalk and street, nor plants under power lines that will reach 15 feet tall. Consider line-of-sight when planting either side of the drive and the corner. Plant 10-15 feet from the street depending on the maintained or mature size of the plants.

In winter, the soil is often workable enough to pull or dig seedlings and saplings under trees and shrubs. Repot or transplant useful ones, winter over by mulching with leaves and securing with bird netting. In the spring, share with friends.

In the Arboretum: The Beauty of Bark

The Arboretum is bursting when bloom from spring through fall, but have you ever looked at the color and texture of the Arboretum in the winter? To most, the winter garden is dreary and lacking all color, but a closer look will prove otherwise. Really look at a tree’s bark. It is the tree’s outer protection layer. It also is a thing of beauty in and of itself. Each tree has its own distinctive silhouette and bark.

  • The ginkgo (Ginkgo biloba) row by the pergola has the most identifiable bark accented spurs on its branches.
  • The Kentucky Coffee Tree, our Heritage Tree, is another readily recognizable one by its dark gray, fissured scaly surface and narrow ridges. Its botanical name ‘Gymnocladus dioicus’ meaning ‘naked branch’ describes it thick twig-less branches. The winter buds are minute, but not its pods, which measure 6-10 inches with 6-9 dime-sized seed.
  • The Sycamore (Plantanus occidentalis) has white bark cannot be missed even in the summer. Its lower trunk is splotchy shades of gray and tan, but the upper is smooth snowy-white that highly contrasts against the winter sky and its surrounding dark-barked neighbors. As stunning as it is, it is not a tree for small places as it can easily reach 150 feet.
  • And, Northern Red Oak (Quercus rubra). The Kentucky big tree champion grows to the left of the Wallis House front drive. This species is found in most of Kentucky’s 120 counties. Its bark is noted its the shallow fissure and smooth ridges that sometimes having a striped appearance. Other oaks have a similar striping, but only the red oak stripes run the length of the trunk.

These are just a few of the wonderful winter trees in the Arboretum. Come visit on your own, or for a group tour of the Arboretum: call 859-987-6158 and leave a message. Wallis House is available to rent for special events and meetings.

Garden Tips – November

 “To nurture a garden is to feed not just the body, but the soul.” ~ Alfred Austin, English poet.

We are in that awkward transition time of year when it is often too early and too late to do chores. Take one day at a time and hope for the best. Generally, nature is forgiving.

  • Garden – Dig summer bulbs before the ground freezes. The moon phase this weekend makes it a good time to sow bachelor buttons, calendula, nicotiana, and sweet alyssum.
  • Take advantage of end-of-the-season sales. For a quick and easy compost bin, connect pallets to form a three-sided box.
  • House plants – Check new houseplants and those recently returned from outdoors, for emerging insects. Draw water the night before using. Quart milk jugs make good watering cans. Start forcing poinsettia using nature light as it does not like artificial. Decorate a door by hanging a straw wreath to which has been added dried dill, valerian, rue(wear gloves when handling), and other materials from your yard. Do not hang wreaths that include berried branches on doors as they attract birds and a mess.
  • Trees – Wrap young tree trunks with tree guard(paper or other protective material) to create a shield from winter winds, freeze/thaw, and male deer rubbing their antlers against the trunk and branches. Piled branches around small trees will discourage deer from getting close to the trees.
  • Vegetables – When beds are leaned, place a thin layer of chopped leaves on top. Cover with black plastic or tarp that will block light and kill weeds over-winter. Fasten down with tent stakes, wood boards, or bricks to hold in place.
  • Pets – Protect pets on Halloween. Keep them inside or in a safe kennel. Secure chocolate in containers as it is lethal to dogs.

In the Arboretum – November

There are so many wonderful trees in the Arboretum, sometimes it is hard to see the trees for the ‘forest’. Among the wonderful trees that you will find in the Arboretum is Diospryros virginiana, aka ‘divine fruit’. It is one that you would not readily accept If your only contact with D. virginiana, (persimmon) was tasting the astringent fruit, or stepping on the messy fruit, it would be the last tree you would want to plant. It is all how you look at it.

In the fall, its foliage of gold, yellow, orange and purple foliage, simply glows. Its winter silhouette exposes alligator bark and picturesque branches, and apricot-colored fruit that will hang on through the winter or until the wildlife eat it.

Michael A. Dirr, “Dirr’s Hardy Trees and Shrubs”, says ‘it will not win a landscape beauty contest’, however, once established the long tap root ensures it will survive the worst of conditions and it will have a long life. Severed roots will regenerate, are good soil builders, enabling the tree to adapt to drought, flood, heat, shade, and wind, though it loves rich, organic soil, plenty of moisture and full sun.

Culture is simple. Avoid planting were fruit will drop on hard surface. The dense wood, member of the ebony family, resists and survives persimmon wilt a systematic disease and twig girdling insect. Simply rake fallen branches and leaves and burned the area under the tree.

When to eat the fruit? Most consider the astringent D. virginiana(American native) must go through a freeze to be edible. Guy Sternberg, author of “Native Trees of North America”, states that it is not temperature but the length of time that causes it to sweeten.

It is a wonderful apricot-tasting fruit that is a delight as fruit, the basis of bread, pudding, preserves and brandy. Sternberg considers it as the most diverse and useful tree in the landscape. It is an excellent wildlife wood, attracts two spectacular moths Regal and Swallow-tail Luna. While the dense black core-wood has many uses (shuttles and veneer), don’t build a child’s boat – it will sink due to its density.

October Things to do in Your Garden

  • Patron of Gardeners – October 2nd is is St Francis of Assisi Day, known for his love of animals and nature.
  • 15 Minute Gardening – Label garden hoses “Not Potable”, since the PVC stabilizer can leach into the water. Potable are available from garden stores and on-line.
  • Water Early and Deep – Always water early morning to let foliage dry off before the sun reaches the plant. Water beads will act as a magnifying glass, burning the foliage. Soil should be watered one inch a week or when the soil is dry more than the top inch.  To check the depth, use a spade to take a narrow plug. Slow water to allow for absorption and not run-off.
  • Wedding- Pull or dig weeds making sure all of the root system is removed.
  • Saving Seeds – Save seed from your favorite annuals except hybrid varieties that will not come true or are sterile. Seed packets marked F1, are hybrids.
  • Spacing Bulbs – For a naturalized planting of bulbs, determine the area to be planted, throw bulbs them over your back, and plant where they landed.
  • Caring for dried flowers – Use spray lacquer or hair spray on dried flower to prevent shattering and as a primer before spray painting. Revive cut hydrangeas by plunging them head-first into water, also stems if possible, for about an hour.
  • Trees and shrubs – Rake walnuts, sweet gum, buckeye and Kentucky Coffee(our Heritage Tree) seeds before mowing as they can dull mower blades and can be a dangerous projective. The Whitehaven Welcome Center will gladly receive your buckeye seeds and Coffee tree pods to share with visitors who enjoy receiving both.
  • Vegetables
    • Separate grocery-purchased garlic cloves that have sprouted, pot up, and snip new growth for cooking.
    • For fried green tomatoes, use only hard green ones without any blush. Those that show color tend to get too soft.
  • Fish Tank Fertilizer – Save water from cleaning the fish tank to fertilize the garden.

Autumn at the Arboretum

According to the calendar it is officially Autumn, though this year’s continuing heat shows Mother Nature is not willing to leave Summer just quite yet. From the Wallis Arboretum’s beginning in the 1850s, trees were selected for their uniqueness and their year-round beauty, so as we progress into true autumn, there will be a continuation of color throughout.

Maples, harbingers of autumn, normally are the first to show their true colors in the fall. The Arboretum maples include Black, Paperbark, Red, and Sugar; and Japanese maple “Bloodgood” and “Burgundy Lace”. The new foliage of the last is a deep red that changes color during the year and returns to deep red-purple in the fall.

Among the unique are gingkos, whose leaf imprints have been found in fossils that are 270 million years old. The lemon-yellow leaves hang on until all have turned and then drop within two to three days, leaving a bare tree surrounded by a yellow skirt on the ground.

Redbud displays a darker yellow, with the exception of “Forest Pansy” and “Oklahoma” whose leaves are deep purple.

Washington Hawthorn turns orange, scarlet, and purple each fall. Along with the  Serviceberry, which has red to orange foliage, these two native trees produces purple-black edible berries and retains through the winter for the birds to eat.

The oaks, whose botanical name “Quercus’ means ‘beautiful tree’, are  among the last to change color. The Pin Oak and the Northern Red Oak change to scarlet and ruby-red.

This is not a complete list of the Arboretum’s fall color collection of trees. Visit the Arboretum often to see the daily change of fall color. Visit on your own or for a group tour of the Arboretum: call 859-987-6158 and leave a message.